Brian Mcgonagle and Lily Burgess have been trying to move to Revelstoke for months. (Submitted)

Brian Mcgonagle and Lily Burgess have been trying to move to Revelstoke for months. (Submitted)

Couple falls victim to Revelstoke rental scam on Kijiji, twice

They lost $2,600 in total

After falling victim to two housing rental scams, a couple new to Revelstoke is still homeless.

The couple, originally from Australia and Ireland, moved to Canada on a two-year working visa. After the two pooled savings, they came to Revelstoke from Ontario for the winter season, securing jobs at Revelstoke Mountain Resort.

While still in Ontario, the couple started looking for housing in Revelstoke. The two posted an ad to Kijiji, asking for accommodation.

“That was our first mistake,” said Brian Mcgonagle.

The couple got a response from someone calling themselves Brent Lefrancois, who said he had a property available and provided photos.

Lefrancois told the couple, in an email, he had recently moved to North Carolina as his daughter and her husband died in a car crash and he was now in the U.S. to look after his grandchildren. Lefrancois said he needed someone to “take good care of my property.”

He sent the couple a rental application form and a lease agreement form, asking for a damage deposit and two months’ rent, which totalled $2,100.

“We knew finding housing in Revelstoke was difficult, so we went for it,” said Mcgonagle. The couple e-transferred the money and never heard from the person again.

Realizing they were scammed, the couple called the police.

Yet, Revelstoke RCMP said these cases are difficult to solve, particularly if the fraudster is overseas.

“Once you press send on an e-transfer, it’s gone,” said Sergeant Chris Dobbs.

He said rental scams in Revelstoke are common, particularly because it’s difficult to find housing and renters are desperate.

“It’s ripe for fraudsters.”

READ MORE: B.C. woman has hundreds show up in $500 Craigslist rental scam

Still, on the hunt for a place to live, the couple was contacted by a person referring to himself as Jacques Lafleur.

Now weary, the couple researched B.C. tenancy laws, learning landlords could only ask for half a month’s rent prior to moving in.

“However, this man was far more cunning,” Mcgonagle said.

READ MORE: 3 things to know if you live in a rental in B.C.

The person provided photos of the rental property and sent copies of a driver’s license with his name on it. The couple looked up Lafleur on the Government of Ontario website and he appeared to be real.

“It seemed legit,” Mcgonagle said.

To secure the property, the couple paid a $500 damage deposit. The person promised a virtual tour on Oct. 5 but cancelled due to something “urgent”. He sent a rental agreement and told the couple keys were in the garage.

The person then asked for the first month’s rent. Still hesitant, the couple said they visited a bank to wire the money. However, the bank said the address provided was flagged for fraud.

The couple told the person and they soon stopped responding.

Who is Jacques Lafleur?

With a copy of the driver’s license, Black Press was able to track down Lafleur. However, Lafleur said he is also a victim of fraud.

Approximately five months ago, he also posted on Kijiji looking for accommodation in Kitchener, Ont. for his wife, himself and his mother. A “landlord” asked for IDs from all three, which Lafleur provided, along with $800.

The perspective landlord said he would mail the keys, even providing photos of the trip to the mailbox. He also gave Lafleur a driver’s license, which Lafleur later learned was also stolen.

Eventually, the landlord stopped contacting Lafleur and stole his identity.

“I am so angry,” said Lafleur. He contacted police but was also told little could be done.

READ MORE: VIDEO: Renters keep showing up at B.C. couple’s home after it was listed in online scam

Still homeless

Mcgonagle and his partner still came to Revelstoke and plan to stay for the winter.

“We’re on a once in a lifetime trip. We’re not here to make money, but see what Canada has to offer.”

However, since “Lafleur” had provided an actual address, the couple visited the house to warn the homeowners of the scam.

“It was quite surprising,” said Stephanie Miller.

“It’s concerning that people can just show up at my door with a truckload of stuff, expecting to move in,” she said.

Matt Cherry, a moderator of the Facebook group Revy Rentals, which has over 11,000 members, said rental scams are common. Cherry who also owns multiple houses in Revelstoke, said he even found one of his properties for rent on the Stoke List, a local classifieds website when it wasn’t.

Cherry said one of the reasons he created Revy Rentals was to try and provide a secure rental forum.

In the last several years, Cherry said he has blocked roughly 400 people trying to join the Facebook group as scammers.

“Unfortunately, the scams are getting better and better and providing more information to seem legit.”

Cherry encourages all prospective renters to Google landlords, Facetime (if they are outside Revelstoke) and get a tour of the property before handing over any money.

Revelstoke RCMP suggests finding accommodation through a management company, such as Revelstoke Property Services or a reliable website, such as Airbnb. If possible, always meet the landlord.

“If the accommodation seems too good to be true, don’t do it. It probably isn’t,” said Sergeant Chris Dobbs.

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:
liam.harrap@revelstokereview.com


 

@pointypeak701
liam.harrap@revelstokereview.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:
liam.harrap@revelstokereview.com


 

@pointypeak701
liam.harrap@revelstokereview.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Crime

Just Posted

Black Press file photo
RCMP seek suspect in Vancouver Island-wide crime spree

Crimes stretched from Deep Bay to Qualicum, Ladysmith, Chemainus and Youbou

North Cowichan’s committee of the whole have rejected staff’s recommendation to limit the use of fireworks to Halloween. (File photo)
North Cowichan rejects limiting fireworks to Halloween

Municipality decides staff recommendation would be unpopular

Flag exhibit is now set up in the Chemainus Valley Museum. (Photo by Val Galvin)
Fibre artists put their unique twists on climate change exhibit

Red Flag warning label affixed to collection now on display at the Chemainus Valley Museum

Things are looking up for Vancouver Island as zero COVID-19 cases have been reported for the first time since October. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Island records zero new COVID-19 cases for the first time since October

For the first time since October, the province is reporting zero new… Continue reading

Letters to the editor.
Many questions emerge from opioid dealer’s sentence

Leniency hard to fathom, especially after judge’s harsh words

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed teen facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

The George Road wildfire near Lytton, B.C., has grown to 250 hectares. (BC Wildfire Service)
B.C. drone sighting halts helicopters fighting 250 hectares of wildfire

‘If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft the consequences could be deadly,’ says BC Wildfire Service

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

A aerial view shows the debris going into Quesnel Lake caused by a tailings pond breach near the town of Likely, B.C., Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Updated tailings code after Mount Polley an improvement: B.C. mines auditor

British Columbia’s chief auditor of mines has found changes to the province’s requirements for tailings storage facilities

A North Vancouver man was arrested Friday and three police officers were injured after a 10-person broke out at English Bay on June 19, 2021. (Youtube/Screen grab)
Man arrested, 3 police injured during 10-person brawl at Vancouver beach

The arrest was captured on video by bystanders, many of whom heckled the officers as they struggled with the handcuffed man

Most Read